Located in the West MacDonnell Ranges, Ormiston Gorge showcases the amazing geology and landforms of the area. Along with a near-permanent waterhole estimated to be up to 45 feet (14 meters) deep, Ormiston Gorge shows towering walls of red earth iconic to the Australian outback.
The gorge is an important wildlife refuge, a status cemented when the long-tailed dunnart and central rock rat were rediscovered in the area after it was thought they had died out. The site is ideal for swimming, though visitors should note that the water temperature can be at odds with the heat of the Australian desert, and hypothermia can result from prolonged exposure.
The most popular activity at Ormiston Gorge is walking. The five-minute Waterhole Walk and the 20-minute Ghost Gum Lookout walk are the two most popular trails. To really experience the gorge, however, the Ormiston Pound walk makes a full circuit from the visitor center around the landscape of the gorge and takes three to four hours to complete – time well spent. The Larapinta Trail also passes through the gorge.
Ormiston Gorge is located 85 miles (135 km) west of Alice Springs via sealed road, meaning it’s suitable for all vehicles in all but the heaviest rain. Most visitors come to the gorge on day trips, but there is camping available. Campers need to bring in their own water supply.